After several years of relative inactivity, Swarthmore’s Mock Trial team is back in a big way. The team experienced great success this year, reaching the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) for the first time since 2011.
Less than one third of all teams across the country make it to the highly challenging competition, says Julia LeBlanc ’23, co-president of Mock Trial along with Kilin Tang ’25.
“There’s a saying in the mock world that it is hard to ‘break the bubble’ — essentially it is hard for a team that hasn’t gone to the championship in a bit to get there again and compete well, because there are just so many differences,” says LeBlanc. “But we did it. In each trial, we were right up there competing with some of the best teams in the country … proving we earned our spot.”
Swarthmore’s Mock Trial program went dormant at times over the past decade, and was restarted in 2020 by Scout Hayashi ’22, who currently leads the team as a coach. This year, the team underwent some drastic changes with overhaul of the executive board and a consolidation of two teams into one.
“It has been a wild ride,” says LeBlanc. “We’ve gone through plenty of changes, but have come out of it stronger and more cohesive as a team. I really think the struggles we went through brought us together, and have proven that everyone is willing to sacrifice and work together to make the team as a whole better.”
The team competed in ORCS in Washington, D.C., in March, against 23 other teams. Although Swarthmore fell short of advancing to The American Mock Trial Association National Championships, the team made the College proud, and several students were recognized for individual achievements.
“We fought our hearts out!” says Khylan Stubblefield ‘26, who received an All-Nationals Witness Award. “We held our own against some of the best teams in the country and were able to adjust on the fly. I'm extremely proud.”
At invitationals throughout the season, Stubblefield, Nathanael Brown ’26, and Daniel Song ’24 each won Outstanding Witness awards.
“My experience on the Mock Trial team was very rewarding and personally meaningful,” says Brown. “As a first-year student with no prior mock trial experience, I was a little nervous about joining, but everyone was very welcoming, and I really felt like it was a good community.”
LeBlanc will be leaving the team after Commencement, but they still have aspirations for the future of Swarthmore’s Mock Trial team.
“They deserve everything they worked for, and I can’t wait to see where they go next,” says LeBlanc. “I have no doubt that they’ll be back at ORCS next year. My main hope is that they understand just how much they’ve already accomplished, and that they’re ready to do even more next year.”